SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Defending American Flat Track champion Jared Mees successfully rebounded from Tuesday’s Black Hills Half-Mile crash by defeating title rival Briar Bauman in Saturday’s Law Tigers Sacramento Mile.
Cal Expo served as the latest battleground in a series of captivating showdowns waged by American Flat Track’s leading men. In the opening stages of the 25-lap AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines Main Event, Mees appeared quite content to suppress the pace and jostle with the pack.
Bauman had other ideas, however, and forced Mees’ hand by leaping out front and pulling the pin. Mees responded, and then some. He rolled back around his adversary and pushed Bauman to his limits with his sheer pace. The championship leader barely clung on, giving chase from right around a second back over the race’s second half.
Bauman somehow managed to dig deep and summon up a final-lap charge. He lined up a last-gasp draft to the flag, but Mees’ decisive launch out of turn four proved too perfect to overcome, powering him to a .151-second margin of victory.
The race was yet another demonstration of the resilient determination of the two championship rivals. Over the last five rounds, Bauman has twice bounced back from 16th-place finishes to win the next time out, while Mees has done the same on the heels of 15th- and 14th-place results.
The latest of those bounce-back triumphs saw Mees up his career record to 44 premier-class wins. That moves him out of a tie with Jay Springsteen and into sole possession of third place on the all-time AFT Twins victory order.
“I banged the holeshot and then was keeping the pace kind of mediocre just to get the tires warmed up slow and try to get some players up in there,” Mees said. “It worked out good — I finally just dropped the hammer and the bike was working so good. You don’t really get perfect motorcycles even if you win a race. You win a race and usually you think the bike still could have been a little bit better. But this bike was really, really dialed-in. It was perfect tonight.”
Third-place was an equally good story, as 2015 AFT Singles champ Davis Fisher secured his maiden premier-class podium after racking up multiple fourth-place finishes in 2017 and 2018.
Bronson Bauman overcame seven-time Sacramento Mile winner Bryan Smith to claim fourth.
In other action, Roof Systems AFT Singles star Shayna Texter added to her legend on Saturday night.
Texter featured up front throughout an epic 15-lap Main that saw a freight train numbering in the double digits do battle for the bulk of the race before whittling away to an eight-rider lead pack in the end.
She led the penultimate lap and looked well in control before being unexpectedly shuffled back to fifth to start the final lap following an assertive pass on the part of teammate Dan Bromley.
Undeterred, Texter powered around the outside of two riders entering turn three for the last time, and then launched out of the last turn to blast by leader Bromley and Red Mile winner Mikey Rush in the decisive sprint to the checkered flag.
As a result, Texter now boasts eight Mile wins among her class-leading 17 career victories.
“I definitely got pushed off the groove a little bit, unfortunately, by my teammate,” Texter said. “I didn’t see that coming, so that elevated my heart rate a little bit coming to that white-flag lap. I just put it in so hard into three, and got myself in a really good position and then got a draft off these guys into the lead.”
Rush and Tristan Avery also powered past the big-bodied Bromley to finish second and third, respectively.
Dalton Gauthier made history in Saturday night’s AFT Production Twins class, guiding Harley-Davidson’s production-based XG750R bike to its maiden American Flat Track victory.
Title leader and top qualifier Cory Texter jumped out to the lead early and threatened to return to his winning ways early. However, Gauthier and teammate James Rispoli responded en force, running down Texter in tandem and hounding him as a duo.
Gauthier overhauled Rispoli and Texter around the outside in quick succession and went about making his escape at the front as Rispoli and Texter continued to tangle behind him.
Gauthier would open up a three-plus second advantage before backing off late to secure the XG750R’s breakthrough triumph with 1.926 seconds in hand.
“The whole Vance & Hines crew, everybody at Harley and Black Hills Harley-Davidson put me on this awesome motorcycle,” Gauthier said. “This bike was working so good tonight. I couldn’t believe it. Right from the first lap in the Main, I knew it was going to be a good one. I got off to a good start, just like I wanted. I passed Cory around the outside in Turn 3 and just set sail. I just did consistent laps and tried to do my own race. I looked back halfway through the race and nobody was there, so I was like, ‘sweet!’”